Fume #WritePhoto

The smoke rose above the trees. That was how he was able to find them. He followed the smell of burning wood and cooked beans.

He moved through the night like a shadow, staying strangely silent for a beast his size. He knew how to quieten his feet, body and breath. He knew where everything lay in his forest and could avoid the nosiest bushes and dry branches of fallen trees.

It was always best to wait, he knew that but sometimes there was no time. Tonight, the people were camping, sleeping in tents. It was the perfect and easiest hunt.

He arrived, slowed and took in the scene. The fire was burning low, orange embers against the black ground. The two tents were together, sheltered under the trees but not from him. He listened and could tell they were sleeping by the sound of their breathing.

He licked his lips and crept forward. All ready he could taste their blood.

He pounced. The tent collapsed underneath and he ripped into the fabric.

Screams rippled through the air then faded into night.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/01/02/thursday-photo-prompt-fume-writephoto/ with thanks).

Basement

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There was a demon in the basement. I didn’t think anyone else but me knew. At first I just left him alone when I went to do the laundry down there. I would hear him snipper, hissing, moaning and giggling. Sometimes he would shuffle about, moving from one dark patch to another or else edging into a puddle of light to peer at me.

He was a small demon, about 4 foot and he was bright red like a burn. He had a curly, long tail with a spiked end, flat feet but wedded toes, he sometimes walked on two feet other times four. His hands were like his feet only with longer fingers and sharp like dagger nails. He’s body was bone thin, his neck long and his head too big. Huge black eyes stared out, his nose was snake slit and his mouth wide and full of needle teeth.

We never spoke but we both knew each other was aware of the other. I don’t know what he was doing down there and I didn’t wish to know. He could go about his business and I prayed he left me alone to get on with mine.

Angel #WritePhoto

It was a horrible winter afternoon, close to Christmas eve and the rain was just coming down as if a flood gate had opened. The wind was lashing the rain like the snapping of a whip against the windows and the sky above was a dark stormy grey full of bleakness.

I should have been at work in an noisy office of people’s voices, telephones ringing, keyboards typing and Christmas music playing on the radio. Instead, I had phoned in sick but not for myself for my dog.

Pip had eaten something that disagreed with her and she had spent the night with stomach bug symptoms. Whatever it was, she had gotten rid of but she was exhausted and I was on standby to take her to the vets at any second.

She was old now but still a stocky staffy and she would play with soft toys and gnaw on small chews when the mood took her. Pip preferred the sofa over her bed and liked cuddling up me.

I was wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies, just passing the time. I heard a tapping on the door and thought it must be another delivery man. Getting up, scattering wrapping paper and bows, I went to the door and found someone standing in the hallway.

The figure was white, blurred and shinning at the edges. I thought it was a ghost but then I noticed the white feather wings coming out of the back and the golden halo above the head. There was no doubt this was an angel.

‘Hello?’ I said timidly.

No voice replied but the figure became more solid and I saw it was a man in a flowing white robe that fluttered as if a constant breeze was about him. He had long, curls of golden hair, not a strand of which was out of place. His face was soft and colourless, he had blue eyes, no facial hair, a long roman nose and a wide forehead. No wrinkles touched his white glowing skin and his hands that were by his side liked like a marble statue’s.

‘Please, don’t have come for my dog!’ I cried and rushed back into the living room.

Patch was still dozing on the sofa. I sat down and hugged her, feeling tears sting my eyes. It was the wrong time of year to lose anybody and I didn’t want to let my dog go.

I heard the soft movement of feathers brushing together and though I hadn’t heard anything else, I knew the angel had come into the room. I didn’t look up. I didn’t want too. If I didn’t see then maybe the angel wasn’t there, perhaps he would just go away.

‘I have not come to take anything,’ a soft male voice spoke.

‘Then what?’ I asked, my voice muffled as my face was pressed in the Pip’s short brown fur.

‘Just, I wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas.’

I raised my head and looked over. The angel was standing just inside the doorway, taking up a lot of space. He must have been close to seven feet tall and though his wings were folded and dropped down, they framed his large body like open car doors. The feathers reminded me of a swan’s, though they were bigger and whiter, unreal looking and yet I had the sense they would be soft and his wings more then capable of lifting him in flight.

He seemed uncomfortable in my small house and he wasn’t looking at me but at the Nativity scene on the windowsill. The figures were all pot and hand painted, they were old and looked a bit bashed but I had never replace them. On either side were metal and a glass lanterns, that I had lit with tealight candles.

I didn’t know how to reply to him. I had thought for sure he was here to carry my dog’s soul away.

He looked at the Christmas tree, admired the lights and decorations upon it. He appeared tempted to touch one of the wooden angels but kept his hands still. His head turned and the angel took in my dog and myself for the first time. I was still holding Pip tightly, not fully believing he hadn’t come for her.

Then the angel turned and walked away silently.

‘Wait!’ I cried, ‘that’s it? That’s all you wanted?’

I got up and followed after him. Pip trailed behind me, tail wagging.

The angel turned in the hallway, ‘yes,’ he said.

‘No, message from God? No, you’re going to give born the next Saviour?’

The angel give a slight frown and shook his head. He began to fade, the edges of his robe, wings and body blurred and shone brightly just like before.

‘Just, Merry Christmas?’

‘That is all,’ he spoke.

I looked down at Pip then back to the angel, he was becoming more faded.

‘Well, then, thanks, I guess and to you too.’

He nodded and was gone.

‘That was weird,’ I said aloud.

Pip walked to the door and starting barking to go out.

Still puzzled and not sure if what I had just experienced was real or not, I got ready to take my dog for a walk.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/12/19/thursday-photo-prompt-angel-writephoto/ with thanks).

Chill #WritePhoto

The snow froze the ground and lay not as a solid blanket but more patchy and lumpy. The Wastelands were like that, rising and falling, all wild with long grass, spiky bushes and stunted trees.

A small cabin, easily missed, stood nested in between two hills and the cover of trees. Smoke rose from the chimney as the clouds blocked the last rays of sun. The chopping of wood echoed and the whooshing of an axe came from the behind the cabin.

Lance collected the newly sliced logs and juggled them with the axe. He could have left the heavy tool outside but he had lost his last one to the Imps. Going inside, he knocked the snow from his boots and dumped the wood and the axe by the fire.

The two dogs growled at him then settled again on the sofa at the sound of his voice, ‘it’s only me. It’s fine.’

Lance went outside to get the rest of the wood. It was dark now the sun had set and a few flakes of snow fluttered from the heavy clouds above. Lance couldn’t see that far into The Wastelands but he knew the layout as if the map was drawn onto his skin.

Back inside, with the rest of the wood, he put two pieces on the fire then put the other logs into the basket beside. It felt too early to light the lamps but if he didn’t the Imps might try to use the shadows to sneak in.

The lamps went on to the two window sills and on the small table next to the door. Lance touched the holly above the door, the leaves were bright green and the red berries shone in the light. There was also dried sage and other plants that The Hollow Witch said should help to keep the Imps away.

The snow was falling faster now and sticking to the ground. A chilly wind was creaking the cabin and creeping through the gaps to try and freeze the inside up. Night rolled in, claiming The Wastelands in darkness.

Going back to the fire, Lance sit in the only other seat in the cabin, an armchair. One of the dogs thumped his tail, whilst the other didn’t even raise her head. Lance didn’t mind, when the dogs were calm it meant the spirits were away.

‘Let’s hope we have a quiet night,’ Lance uttered, ‘the snow is coming down again and that should help keep things at bay but other things might be seeking warmth and we don’t ever invite anything inside.’

The dog grumbled in agreement and rest his head on the arm of the sofa to watch Lance.

Looking into the fire, Lance fell into wondering why him. He could see things people couldn’t for as long as he could remember. It had drove his parents away and he had been left as an apprentice to a shoe maker. That had only last a year though because he hadn’t been able to stop talking about the little elves who mended shoes in the night.

Lance had tried to be a baker, but couldn’t stop talking to the Spirit Keeper of the Ovens and the bread ended up burning too many times. Next, he had tried to be a blacksmith but the Talker for the Horses had kept telling him he wasn’t doing it right and Lance had kept getting in trouble even though it was the Talker making the mistakes.

He had found not pointing out the spirits was the best thing to do but somehow everyone in the town and the neighbouring ones knew he could see things. That unknown was frighting to simple people so Lance had moved away and tried to be a guard in the King’s City. But the spirits were worse there and Lance found seeing them and hearing them all the time too much.

Seeking out the help of people of magic or others that saw the spirit world had helped. Though it had also lead to him being exploited. As a young man he wasn’t aware of this, just glad to have found he wasn’t alone and someone wanted to help him.

As time went on and Lance become more awake to things, he realised that some of those magic people couldn’t see like he could and were using him to trick people into spending money and sometimes getting their houses robbed.

Lance had come all the way out here, to The Wastelands were people didn’t live. He had wanted to be away from everything and not bothered by spirits. He had built his cabin and made a living for himself as a carpenter. He carved bowls, cups, spoons, buckets, children toys and other useful items which he sold anywhere he could do.

The money he used for food and to pay for The Hollow Witch’s services. Lance was grateful to have discovered her. She had come to his cabin one night, seeking shelter and warmth from a snowstorm.

Lance had been unsure at first then The Hollow Witch had told him she could see that he was being hounded by a group of Imps and in return for a night or two of shelter, she would get rid of them for him.

Agreeing, Lance had let her in and once she was warm, The Hollow Witch had cast spells about and got out some sage to banish the Imps.

‘I’m the Hollow Witch because I live in a tree hollow down in the valley on the edge of The Wastelands,’ she had told him, ‘I can help you with your other spirit problems too. But I can’t take away your Sight, only help keep things at bay.’

‘Do you know anyone who can take the Sight away?’ Lance had asked her as the wind had whipped the snow outside and the fire had crackled away.

‘No one can take away your gift or your curse if that’s what you call it. It is your’s alone. You can use it as I have, to aid people and yourself or you can try and ignore it. But some spirits won’t like that,’ The Hollow Witch spoke.

‘The imps?’ Lance had pondered.

‘Yes. They will stop at nothing till they have your attention. They will steal from you, pinch and bite you, laugh and scream in your ears. Anything that makes you speak of them. Then they will continue because that is what they do. They plague us, trick us and led us to danger.’

Lance nodded and had fallen silent. He had felt coming out here would help him escape but it seemed he had been wrong.

Coming back to the present, Lance heard the growling of the dogs. He watched them get off the sofa and go to the door. They stood with ears and tails up, fur raised, growling deeply.

Lance followed them and tried to look out the window but it was too dark. He pressed the side of his face to the door and listened. He could hear laughter like a child but he knew it wasn’t.

He stood back and repeated what The Hollow Witch had told him to, ‘you are not welcome here. Go away. Don’t do anything to this place nor myself or my dogs. Stay away. I banish you from this space. Return to where you come from. BE GONE!’

Taking a few deep breaths, Lance pressed his ear to the door again and heard the wind blowing the snow.

The Imps were gone now but he knew they would be back soon enough.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/12/12/thursday-photo-prompt-chill-writephoto/ with thanks).

Storage #FridayFictioneers

In the storage cage next to mine in the basement of the apartment block sat an old piano. It was dark brown, the lid up showing white and black keys and the stool pulled out as if someone was about to sit down to play.

I asked my neighbour about it and she told me, with sadness in her voice and face, that the piano was her mother’s and she couldn’t part with the instrument.

‘Sometimes,’ she added, ‘I can hear it.’

That night for the time as I fell asleep,  I heard the tinkling of piano notes coming from the basement.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/11/20/22-november-2019/ with thanks).

The Figures In The Fog (Part 4)

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I felt frozen and I knew I wasn’t alone. Things were moving in the fog and it had nothing to do with the wind. I stayed still, listening but not hearing anything else. Suddenly, I felt angry and frustrated, I was tried of being the source of a joke.

‘I’ve had enough,’ I uttered and strolled forward.

The dog trailed after me, tail behind her legs and head down.

‘Rufina,’ came from the whisper from behind me.

‘No, I won’t turn around,’ I spoke, ‘I won’t let you scare me.’

I stomped my boots for a few steps and then tried to calm down. Perhaps, they were trying to make me more angry then scared? That had always been a part of my brothers’ fun. The twins had been the worse, taking my toys and books, trying to get me into play fights, pulling out my red hair and also blaming me for many of their naughty doings.

The dog growled and tried to twist around me. I walked into her and stumbled over, unable to stop myself, I landed spread across the road. I tasted blood and felt bruises blooming.

I turned my head and pressed my cheek to the icy road. Blinking, I looked across and saw a figure leaning against the tree. It looked like a man smoking a pipe.

Turning my head the other way, my eyes picked out another figure. The man with the riding hat. He was standing on the edge of the road, the fog curled like white smoke around him, distorting his features.

I got to my knees and wiped my face then noticed my hands were dirty. Pushing up, I got to my feet and reached back down for the dog. She pushed her nose into my hand then growled a warning.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw the tall man behind me coming out of the fog. I couldn’t make out much of him but I saw his mouth open and heard my name whispered.

Fear rushed through me, I turned and ran. The dog was at my heels, chasing after me and my chest hurt with the cold air. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I knew it wasn’t real men out here nor was it my imagination, it was something else. Something no one living could explain.

A few times, I tripped and fell over a stick or my skirts or the dog but I didn’t care. Each time I got up and ran on because that voice started whispering my name in my ear again. I hated the way the letters sounded, long and curling like a never ending song note.

I tasted blood, felt wetness on my legs and arms. My feet, hips and chest ached. The house felt so far away and the idea that I wouldn’t reach it before the men grabbed me pushed me further on.

I broke through the trees, the road widen and I knew home wasn’t far away now. Stopping, I felt tugging on my cloak and thought it only the dog. I looked down and saw she wasn’t at my heels but ahead of me.

The tugging grew harder, I felt the collar and ribbon against my throat. I twisted, thinking maybe a branch had snagged me. There was nothing there. The cloak was pulled tight out as if someone was holding it.

My next breath chocked. I strained against the force but only felt the pressure more on my throat. I undid the ribbon and clasp, letting the cloak fall behind me. I walked quickly away, trying to run again but my energy was gone.

‘Rufina,’ the voice whispered, ‘Rufina.’

‘Go away!’ I screamed back at the forest.

I saw my cloak fluttering in mid-air, the fog filling it like a living form.

I couldn’t scream, my voice was gone. I turned again and broke into a run, my only thought to make it to the safety of my home.

Yellow glowing lights broke the fog and it seemed less dense along the driveway. The dog barked and another dog answered back. Gasping, I pressed on, trying to get the imagine of my floating cloak out of my mind.

A man’s screamed shocked through me. I twisted around, expecting to see someone behind me but my boots hit something hard and I tumbled down. I landed heavily on something solid, the scream still in my ears.

Dazed, it took me a few moments to figure out I had fallen into the fountain. The water was turned off for winter and damp leaves had gathered into the bottom. I reached for the stone edge and pulled myself up.

Ahead of me the house rose, lights blazing out of the windows.

Standing, I climbed out and wobbled up the front steps. I reached the double wooden doors and struggled to turn one of the heavy iron door knobs. I pushed the door open but couldn’t stop myself from falling into the hallway.

‘Rufina! What happened?’

I looked up at my eldest brother, Thomas, and groaned. He and someone else picked me up, their questions washing over me. I was sat in a chair where I looked around and realised my family, guests and some of the servants had prepared themselves into a search party.

‘Cook told us you had come out to find us,’ Thomas picked up.

‘When Melody came back without you, I knew something must have happened,’ my father said.

‘Did you fall off and hit a tree?’ one of the twins asked with a hint of laughter in his voice.

‘Then stumble into a fox hole?’ the other one added.

I shook my head and dragged in breath enough to speak, ‘there are three men out there and they chased me. They stole my cloak and they tried to…take me too!’

‘Men? But we are all here. There should be no one out there, ‘ my father explained.

‘Been here all the time?’ I questioned.

‘We’ve all stayed together. When the fog fell we came back. We were waiting for you but when you didn’t arrive we were about to go and find you.’

I looked at the floor, fighting myself. Could I have imagined the figures and what happened?

‘Do you want us to go and look for these men?’ Thomas inquired.

I bunched up my damp and mud covered skirts in my fists before responding, ‘no. It’s too dangerous out there.’

‘But if there are trespassers!’

I stood up and grab Thomas’ arm, ‘please, stay here.’

Arguments broke out and it took a lot of convincing to make them all stay inside. I don’t know how I knew but I couldn’t let any of them go out. Whatever those men were it wasn’t good and I knew entering the fog meant no return.

We sat down for lunch begrudgingly but there was no more talk of it again.

As for my black cloak, it was never found.

The End

The Figures In The Fog (Part 3)

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A wet pink tongue slobbered my face and heavy paws tangled in my skirts. I pushed the warm, soft, furry body away from me then brushed away the tears that clouded my eyes.

In my lap was one of this spring’s pups. A small bitch with white and tan coat, long ears and lean body. She licked my hands and whined.

I sighed and lay down on the road. The pup jumped about me, sticking her black wet nose into me and tongue licking bare skin. She pawed at me and nipped me when I didn’t move.

‘Did you get lost too?’ I finally asked.

I pulled myself up and climbed to my feet. I petted the dog, feeling relieved.

‘As everyone else still out here? Do you think you can find them for me?’

The pup licked my fingers and bounced around me.

‘You are better then nothing,’ I uttered.

I set off again, muddy paw prints on my skirts and my boots scuffed up. The dog followed me, tail held high and nose sniffing the air. I thought once or twice she was tracking the rest of the pack but actually she was chasing rabbit in the undergrowth.

Giving up on her, I followed my feet and soon felt the dip in the track. At least I knew where I was but I was far from home now.

On a normal day, walking here was a joy but in this thick fog, strong wind and cold air it was unpleasant. I wished for a horse or for my father’s car.

Somewhere to my left was a fallen tree that made a good seat to rest on. Without thinking much about it, I headed over there and felt the rough bark under my fingers. I sat for a few minutes and the dog joined me. She lay down, panting heavily at my feet.

The wind shifted the trees and stirred up the leaves. I looked up at the path and saw the fog seeming to part. A figure emerged dressed in dark clothes and a black riding hat.

‘Hello?’ I called out.

The dog growled and stood up defensively in front of me.

The figure shifted, moving between the trees slowly, staying just out of clear sight and using the fog as a mask.

‘Stop playing games!’ I snapped, ‘it’s not funny.’

My brothers had always teased me and played tricks on me. Was this them doing so again? It would have been easy enough for them to scare me in this fog.

‘Go and get him,’ I said to the dog and give her little shove forward.

The dog didn’t move. She stood her ground and carried on growling at the figure.

If it had been one of my brothers she wouldn’t be reacting that way. She knew all the family and servants well, like any of the hunting pack dogs. One of the guests then? but why would they want to scare me? They were all old men from my father’s army days, they had fought together in The Great War.

The figure vanished behind a thick tree, the fog rolling back around to claim the space.

‘I didn’t imagine that,’ I muttered, ‘you saw it too, girl.’

I called the dog back to me and she sat on my feet, staring around as if waiting for the figure to come back.

We had no choice but to continue. Hoping there were no more figures and we arrived home quickly, I sort out the road again and carried on. The dog padded at my side and I felt better for my companion.

We hadn’t gone far when the wind picked up and forcefully swept around us. Leaves flew up and scratched against me. The dog jumped and chased them as they went by. The trees rubbed together, creaking and cracking threateningly. A voice spoke something, a single word which I didn’t catch.

‘Hello!’ I screamed.

The wind snatched my voice away and wrapped my skirts and cloak around my legs. I struggled for breath, feeling like I had ice in my lungs. The dog started barking sharply then switched to growling.

The voice came again, it sounded like a whisper of my name.

The dog backed away and pressed against my boots. She curled around me, cowering and starting to shake.

‘I’m not afraid,’ I called out.

‘Rufina,’ a voice breathed in my ear.

 To Be Continued…

The Figures In the Fog (Part 2)

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I stumbled around on the track, calling and calling Melody back to me. The mare was long gone, lost somewhere in the bank of fog.  I gathered myself and checked for injures, just a few cuts and bruises. My skirts, red velvet jacket and black cloak were damp and covered with mud, leaves and grass.

Breathing the frozen air, I got my bearings and decided it would be faster to continue walking forward then try to go back. My father had planned the road out so that it circled to the house no matter which way you went.

Wrapping my cloak tightly around me and putting the hood up, I set off. The fog parted as I went into it then rolled back behind me. The toes of my boots tapped against fallen branches and I crunched over brittle leaves.

I shouldn’t have bothered to come out here to find my father, brothers and guests. I should have stayed in the warm kitchen overseeing lunch being made and listening to the gossip of the servants. I should have brought my dog with me. Jess could have sniffed out my father faster then my eyes could have spotted him.

It had been, I don’t know, instinct? A whispering voice at the back of my head? That had brought me out here telling me something bad was going to happen. I trusted that voice and my mother had always encouraged me to do so.

I heard footsteps ahead. I stopped and called out, ‘Hello?’

No voice replied but the footsteps continued. Had someone else been thrown off their horse and were lost like myself in the forest?

‘Hello! It’s Rufina. I came to find you,’ I spoke.

The footsteps stopped.

My breathing was harsh in my ears and I thought I heard a rustle in the distance but it could have been anything as the fog muffled all sounds. Then, had it really been footsteps I had heard?

Unsure, I walked on, feeling my way more then anything. When the path didn’t feel solid under my feet, I stepped about till I found it again. It felt like being in a dim light, like it was evening time instead of late morning. Branches and leaves brushed me, heightening my senses.

I spotted movement ahead and thought a figure was coming out of the fog. Was it my father? One of my brothers? Or one of the guests? It was hard to tell but it looked like a tall man.

‘Hello? Who’s there?’ I shouted., ‘It’s me, Rufina!’

No reply came.

I picked up my pace and approached the figure but as the fog parted, there was no one there.

I turned around, peering as if I could see the figure somewhere else but there was only the fog and the shape of the close by trees.

‘Is there anybody there?’ I shouted, ‘please come to me! No playing games, it’s too dangerous out here for that!’

The wind shook the trees, there was a rattle of dry leaves and I felt a few brush against my legs as my skirts was whipped up. I pushed things down and straightened my cloak out. I tied the ribbon of my hood tighter and ordinate myself.

I did have a big imagination thanks to all the books I read but I couldn’t have really conjured someone just being there on the road?

Shaking the thoughts out of my head, I carried on and tried to work out how far away I was from home. I knew the road looped down to the edge of the forest before going back up. I must be close to that dip now.

A howling echoed through the forest. My all ready cold skin chilled further and I tripped a step. I held my breath and tried to listen. Where had the howl come from and what creature had made it?

No wolves roamed here. Was it a wild dog? Perhaps, it was the gardener’s pet dog? Or one of the hunting pack hounds?

‘I’m over here!’ I cried then realised how silly that was surrounded by this fog.

The howl sounded again. It was just a single one and it wasn’t answered by another. Not a good sign as the hounds would have been making a lot of noise. There must have been fifteen to twenty dogs all together, so there was no way they could be quiet.

I fretted, unsure what to do. Should I call the dog to me and risk it being a stray or wild dog that could bite me? Or it could be a friendly dog who would guide me back home?

Before I could decided there was a ruckus close by and something jumped out. I screamed and tried to run but something hit into me and I fell.

To Be Continued….

The Figures in The Fog (Part 1)

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I shivered in my black woollen cloak and urged my white mare, Melody, on wards into the forest. It had been a bad idea for my father, my brothers and our guests to go a hunting this morning. I had told them at dinner last night and again this morning but men won’t listen to women like they should.

‘If it had been mother telling them they might have done,’ I muttered aloud.

No one had ever argued with mother. She had had a fiery temper and battles with her were like fighting with a demon. Father had blamed her nature on her thick, bright red hair which I had inherited. That was the only thing I took after her, my manner was soft, bookish and shy.

My mare let out a snort and her breathe misted in front of her. Her hoof beats rang out on the stone covered road which was newly laid for father’s latest pride and joy – an automobile. I couldn’t hear anything else but I knew father, brothers, the four other men, their horses and pack of hounds where close by.

The land we owed wasn’t very big and it was mainly this forest and two small fields. Most of the other clear land had been sold off when money was needed after the 1885 fire which had burnt all but the main part of the house down.

I was born in 1902 and didn’t know how much my family had lost. It wouldn’t come to me anyway, my older brother and twin brothers would be left the estate and I would have money to insure a comfortable life.

My plan was to buy a cottage by the sea and spend my days in peace, far from the stress my father and brothers made for me.

I pulled Melody to a stop and looked around. I couldn’t hear the sound of voices or the popping of gun shots. No birds sung from the half bare tree branches, no deer darted from behind the trunks, no running horses’ hoofs sounded and barking dogs broke out.

‘Where are they?’ I spoke.

From up ahead, a silent fog rolled in, covering the single track way in a thick white coat. The wind whispered through the trees like soft voices as the disturbed autumn leaves floated down. The morning frost covered the grass like a cake’s icing powered and made a crunching sound like a horse eating an apple when stepped upon.

A deer would hear you coming from miles.

The fog wrapped around and the wind chilled me. I couldn’t see and nor could my mare. I felt panic in my stomach and my mouth went dry. The idea of finding the men fled from me and the urge to race home spurred me to slap the reins down and kicked my mare.

She walked on, unsure blinded by the fog just as I was.

‘It’s all right girl. You know the way home,’ I said and patted her neck.

Melody whined as if saying she wasn’t so sure. I encouraged her on but her pace was slowed, the fog clearly spooking her.

There was a snapping of branches to the right. I tried to look but could only see the dense white fog and shadows of trees. I went to pull Melody to a stop in case it was the hunting party instead Melody reared, front legs pounding the air and her neigh loud with fear.

I cried out and clung tight to her neck but my fingers slipped on her damp coat. My skirts offered my legs no extra grip on the sides of the saddle and I struggled to stay on. I knew I wasn’t going to be able too, so I loosed my boots from the stirrups.

Melody threw me, I tumbled down to the wet grass and bumped into a tree trunk. Dizzy and gasping for breath, I tried to hurry up to my feet but my skirts tangled and I tripped back down. I tugged at the grass, feeling the icy cold touch of the frost. I got back up and onto the road again but it was too late, my horse had ran off.

 

To Be Continued…..

The Tunnels

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The sound of dripping water greeted the paranormal team and their guests as they all descended into the darkness of the tunnels. Spots of light from their torches showed the deep stone steps, hand carved walls and Victorian brick arched roofs. An icy cold that would long afterwards keep their bones chilled made itself felt as they reached the first open chamber.

Harper, bundled in her winter gear, tried not to shiver and focused her torch light on the artifices which sat on ledges around the room. All the items had been found down here, lost by the men who had dug The Williamson Tunnels for seemingly no reason other then to earn a wage.

She looked at the nearest display of white and green glass bottles, pill boxes, cracked plates, pipes, and china cups. It was as if the men had actually lived down here. Perhaps, they had? The two volunteer guides with the group had said that not much was known about the history of the tunnels which ran underneath most of Liverpool.

‘There are some chairs in the next room. We shall sit down there for a bit and see what we pick up,’ Earl the leader of the paranormal team spoke.

The group moved off and Harper trailed behind, feeling unsure about being down here. It had seemed like a fun idea when she had stumbled across this ‘ghost hunting’ event online and decided to book tickets for herself, fiance, Andy, and her parents, Luke and Louise. Now, she was thinking it had been a mistake.

There were seventeen chairs set out along a narrow passageway; eight chairs on one side, eight on the other and one chair at the end. Behind which the brickwork had been removed to expose a large dark hole. The group filled the seats and Harper tried to remember all the people.

There was Earl who took the ‘head seat,’ he seemed to be in his early sixties, he had white hair and a short beard. The woman medium, Margo, with short brown hair and black leather pants. A male medium whom Harper couldn’t remember his name. Dale who had long brown hair, was the photographer and Rose, the last member of the paranormal team, who was using a recorder to catch ghost voices. 

Then came the ‘guests,’ people who had brought tickets to this event. Beside from Harper and her family, there were eight others. A man who had come by himself though he had claimed he was meant to be meeting friends here but guessed they had pulled out.

A married couple in their mid-forties who had spoken little but hung on to every word the mediums had spoken. Three twenty-something girls and two men who were clearly from Liverpool and seemed more like they were on a night out then down in some dirty tunnels but they were taking things seriously.

Everyone settled into the grey plastic chairs and started turning their torches off. Harper was one of the last. Total pitch darkness filled the tunnels. Harper reached to her right for Andy’s hand. She felt his warm skin and reassuring squeeze of fingers.

Harper couldn’t remember ever experiencing a black colour like what was around her now. She was blind to everything and all her other senses had become heightened to superhero like levels. She could hear her breathing, loud in her ears as well as the sound of water dripping somewhere into a puddle.

‘Are there any spirits here?’ Earl’s voice rang out.

His words faded and everyone stayed still and silent listening for anything that could be taken for a reply.

‘Make a noise if you are here,’ Earl spoke, ‘we are not here to harm you. We come in love and peace, we just want to know if you are down here or not. Please let us know by joining us. Touch someone. Use your voice and tell us your name, please.’

Drip, drop, drip went the water, the only sound to be heard.

Someone shifted and there was a rustling of clothes. Someone else moved their feet as the photographer began clicking a few photos.

Harper sniffed and smelt something odd in the air, ‘what’s burning?’ she whispered.

‘What’s that?’ Earl called down to her.

‘I smell smoke,’ Harper repeated.

‘Does anyone else?’

‘I’m picking up tobacco,’ Margo the medium replied.

‘No, this is wood burning,’ Harper explained.

There was a mumble of no one else smelling anything then the group fell silent once more.

Harper turned her head about feeling her neck began to ache. She couldn’t really see anything but her eyes had gotten use to the darkness and she could pick out a few shapes. She stopped moving and guessed that she was looking back through the archway to the passage and into the chamber they had entered by. Behind that was a small space with a metal ladder leading upwards to an emergency exit.

A shadow seemed to be moving there. It was going back and forth, like it was ducking in and out, not wanting to be seen by anyone but wanting to look at the group.

It’s a trick of the light, Harper thought, wait, what light? There is none… 

‘Can anyone else see that moving shadow?’ one of the Liverpool girls whispered.

‘Over there by that ladder?’ someone else added.

A few people agreed.

Harper bite her lip but kept quiet. The feeling that they weren’t alone climbed up her.

‘If that’s you over there, please come and join us,’ Earl shouted.

‘I’m picking up on the name William,’ the male medium cut in.

‘William? Let us know you are here, William!’

‘Was that footsteps?’ a man’s voice questioned.

‘Could have been,’ Earl muttered.

The shadow was still bobbing but that was no longer Harper’s focus. There was something else standing in the middle of the first chamber. Harper felt dread and a sense of evil. Her grip tightened on Andy’s hand and desperately she tried not to cry out what she was now seeing.

Earl and the mediums took it in turn to speak, asking the spirits to do things and saying what they were picking up on.

Finally, Harper couldn’t take it anymore and burst out with, ‘there’s something evil down here!’

Everyone stopped then the male medium spoke to her, ‘what is it?’

‘It’s got long arms, it’s dragging itself across the floor and it’s got a like skull head,’ Harper answered.

‘Where is it?’ her mum’s voice whispered.

‘It’s all around us. It’s not human.’

‘Does it have a name?’  Margo asked.

‘What does it want?’ Earl demand at the same time.

‘It’s watching us. It wants you to get angry, that’s what it feeds off. It wants to trick us and keep us down here….It won’t tell me it’s name. It’s not human…’ Harper trailed off.

‘I can get angry,’ Earl shouted, ‘come at me! Come and get us! Show me that you are here!’

Harper shivered and couldn’t take her eyes of the long white arms and skull head of the creature in the chamber. She knew it was real and not her imagination.

‘It’s okay,’ Andy muttered beside her, ‘it can’t get you.’

‘I know. My spirit guide is defending me,’ Harper replied confidently, ‘I don’t know about the rest of you.’

‘Can anyone feel that cold blast of air?’ someone cried out.

‘Here? Yes I can,’ Margo replied, ‘let yourself be known to us.’

There was a sound that sounded like tin scraping rock. The dripping of water paused, the continuous rhythm broken for a few seconds before the next drop fell.

‘The lady that can see this thing,’ Earl’s voice spoke, ‘what’s it doing now?’

Harper took a deep breath and answered, ‘nothing. It’s just watching us.’

‘I don’t like it,’ a woman’s voice uttered, ‘can we leave?’

‘In a few minutes,’ Earl responded, ‘who would like to sit in my chair against the hole?’

No one spoke up.

Earl turned on his torch and stood up. The light broke Harper’s concentration on the creature and she turned to look the other way. Earl was walking then stopping in front of one of the Liverpool girls.

‘I knew you were going to pick me,’ she said.

She got up and went to sit on Earl’s chair. He took her’s and once they were settled he turned out his torch.

Harper turned back to the chamber but the evil thing with long arms and skull head was gone.

‘It feels so cold here,’ the girl uttered.

‘The evil thing comes from that hole,’ Margo spoke, ‘other people have felt the evil down here. No one has described it before though.’

‘Well, I wished she hadn’t told us about!’

‘And this is why I don’t open my mouth about such things,’ Harper whispered but everyone still heard her.

Andy squeezed her hand and Harper hoped he wasn’t thinking anything bad about her. She imagined the break up conversation going something like; ‘you can see ghosts. You didn’t tell me that. I don’t want anything to do with you anymore, that’s too much to handle.’   

Harper shut her eyes and tried not to think about anything. Coming to this event had been a mistake and now she had seen a demon! What if it followed her home? She didn’t want an attachment.

‘Right, let’s move to the lower levels now,’ Earl spoke.

The group moved and went down into the belly of the tunnels. They saw and heard nothing else which Harper was grateful for.

As the clock hands moved to one AM, they walked back up the stone steps and left the tunnels.

Harper breathed the cold, wet air deeply. Puddles on the road glowed in the streetlamps and lights from windows. Voices and music drifted around, reminding them of life going on.

‘Did you really see something?’ Andy asked in a low voice.

They were standing away from everyone else, near a bench with a remembrance plaque on it.

‘Would you think any different of me if I did?’ Harper spoke.

‘No,’ Andy replied, ‘I love you no matter what.’

‘Then I did see that creature.’

Andy nodded and drew Harper into a hug.

‘Everyone accounted for? Good. Let’s go back. The ghost hunt is now over,’ Earl called out over the chattering of the group.

People set off heading back to their cars. Harper walked holding hands with Andy, too tried to talk about her experience anymore.

 

(Note; this story is based on a real experience I had on Sunday 27th October between 12am and 1am in the Paddington section of the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool. I took my family on a ‘ghost hunt night,’ we and some other people were with a paranormal group seeing if we could pick up on any ghost activity within two different tunnel sections. 

I have always been a sensitive -someone who can sense ghosts- but I don’t like to talk about it. I’m weird all ready and can do without adding to it! Sometimes though, things like this just happen to me and I know it was real and not my imagination. 

To me this is a piece of non-fiction but make of it what you will. I’m not asking anyone to believe me or try to disapprove what happened to me. I just wanted to share my experience in story form with you all.     

For further information or maybe a visit to the tunnels yourself, check out their website; http://www.williamsontunnels.co.uk/)